Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Furnidec Design 2008: The photos

I'm finally able to post photos (click on them to see them larger) of the area we made for the Design Event and the Pan-Hellenic competition for furniture design in Pavilion 14 of T.I.F. during Furnidec Business. My brilliant colleague Ioanna Papadopoulou designed the whole construction and I designed the furniture silhouettes decorating the walls (with the help of our talented Maria Papathemeli on Illustrator!). I also supervised the set-up.

The items displayed by the Greek designers were mostly decorative pieces, but there were the big exceptions like chairs, tables and a seemingly intricate seating system, below, by Xristina Karakalpaki (it was her thesis as we found out ,and will be shown in Milan this April). The sundials are by Andreas Galanakis:

There were some interesting lamps by EON (Dimitris Birbilis and Alexis Oikonomidis), the unusual table at the front is again by Xristina Karakalpaki, the beautiful hangers at the back are by Kalliroi Spyridonos and the graphically inspired clocks are by Dionysis Pharaoh and Christina Papaleonida:

The bright green floor contrasted nicely with the red carpet and the dark grey walls. At the back, you can see the Pan-Hellenic competition for furniture design area, with the drawings and models of the contestants displayed in white "cuts" on the dark grey wall.

The desk at the front is by EON (Dimitris Birbilis and Alexis Oikonomidis):

And another panoramic view of the design area.

Monday, January 28, 2008

1st Children's and Young Adults' Bookfair in Athens

My very next project (supervising) is the 1st Children's and Young Adults' Bookfair in Athens. Taking place from the 1st of February up until the 4th, it is housed at HELEXPO Exhibition Grounds, Maroussi, Athens. It is organized by The Ministry of Culture and the National Book Centre (EKEBI).

"Four days to communicate the pleasure of reading to children and young adults. A unique opportunity for them to meet their favourite writers and discover a magical new world"

At the exhibition you will find:
  • Publishers of children’s books will present their book-production and welcome young visitors to their stands.

  • Over 50 events: children’s theatre, meetings with favorite authors and illustrators, readings, musical performances, workshops, exhibitions.

  • A special stand where old toys and rare editions of children’s magazines from the collection of the Hellenic Literary and Historical Archive will be exhibited.(designed by Tetragon)
  • A central stand hosting the Guest of Honour: The Netherlands (designed by Tetragon)

  • A special stand hosting the two greek nominations for the International Andersen Award. (designed by Tetragon)

  • Screenings of short movies for children and young people (Camera Zizanio) by the Olympia International Film Festival (theatres designed by Tetragon)

We also designed the EKEBI stand, so I have a lot of stuff to supervise in two days only! I will be posting photos from the exhibition as soon as I return from my Athens trip.

Open to the public from 9.00 to 20.00 (on Monday until 16.00)

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Trains viewed through a Monocle

I have always been fascinated by trains. Surely the fact that on my first month of life I was already a train traveller, plus the fact that both grandfather and father worked in them played a major part. Model trains were always a fixture at my parent's house during the holiday season, me and my brother playing like crazy with them. Travelling by train from Thessaloniki all the way up to London in 1987 was a milestone for me.Even my diploma thesis at the University was about trains.

So imagine my joy when my favourite magazine, Monocle, dedicated its latest issue to trains! While train-spotting always reminded the average man of nerds, and train travel had long lost its glamour (since Orient express stopped travelling across Europe), in recent years it is coming back with a vengeance.

Launched in February 2007, Monocle is a global briefing covering international affairs, business, culture and design. Head quartered in London with bureaux in Tokyo, Sydney, Zürich and New York, Monocle appears 10 times a year in print and is updated constantly at monocle.com. Developed for an international audience hungry for information across a variety of sectors, Monocle's team of award-winning editors and correspondents have been drawn from The New York Times, The Independent on Sunday, the BBC, CBC and a host of other news and current affairs outlets. More of a book than a magazine, Monocle's designed to be highly portable (it's lightweight and compact) and collectable (it's thick and robust). On-line, the focus is on broadcasting with a wide array of films, slide shows and audio reports. Edited by Wallpaper* founder and International Herald Tribune columnist Tyler Brûlé, Monocle offers a comprehensive global briefing under a single editorial brand. In print and on-line, writers and photographers are dispatched to over 50 countries every issue to deliver stories on forgotten states, alluring political figures, emerging brands, fresh forces in popular culture and inspiring design solutions.

So Monocle having a train issue is this weekend's treat for me - with in-depth analysis of emerging global trends in train travel, the way it affects global business and politics (yes it does, just look at the North -South Korea first train in ages), and even the editor's point dedicated to trains. It also features men and women's fashion photographed in (yes!) trains: Women's fashion, seen in the photo above, in the train from Cologne to Leipzig. Men's fashion on the other hand was photographed on the N700 model of Shinkansen bullet train from Tokyo to Fukuoka (below and on the cover picture earlier), in Japan. A dream combination of highly styled trains and clothes!

And inside the Shinkansen:

There is a big feature on the TransAsya Express from Istanbul to Lake Van (final destination Tehran) on Turkish Railroads, with amazing photography by Andres Gonzales:

Above: a Turkish steward and an Iranian passenger dance in the dining car.
Below: Swiss bikers enjoy a stop

Above: Passing through Malatya.
Below: The military checkpoint in Beyan.

There is an article about the re-emergence of night trains across Europe, with a great look at the inside of the new City Night Line trains by Deutsche Bahn (below). Can a newly designed and re-imagined Orient Express be far behind? Let's hope not!

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Netherlands trip 2008 - part 3

Walking around the old city of Utrecht is a fascinating experience, even if the weather is not the best you can get. One of the classic tourist attractions is the old Dom tower. This is the only part left from the old cathedral, but that is not what interests us today.

The cathedral's nave was torn down in 1674 by North Sea Winds (remember Cyril last year and it will not sound improbable). Only the tower and the transept remained. So today there is a big gap between the tower and what passes for the cathedral in these days. Filled with trees, in the summer it must be a lovely place to walk, enjoying the surroundings. This winter it is an eerie landscape of green tree-trunks (a result of the moss that covers them), looking strikingly otherworldly against the earthly and reddish hues of the chancel.

The impression that stays with you is of a surreal painting, where, instead of green leaves, you have green trunks and branches. And with that sense, comes another: one of isolation, loneliness, sadness. Despite the few people walking by (or on bicycles), I felt completely deserted there...

The tower is 112m tall, with 465 steps taking you up to see the view, and it is the tallest church spire of Holland. Its mechanical carillon has a huge repertoire of tunes that can be heard through the centre's cobbled streets, but I think only the tourists find them charming (try living next to it, playing a deafening melody each half hour and you will find out why).

You can go under the tower to the other side of it through a small tunnel at the base. I did not have the time to climb the stairs but will do in the future!

Walking away from the tower, the view from the canal is sublime... actually the tower serves as orientation so that one does not get lost in the narrow streets of the old city.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Special Event:Design of Modern Greek Furniture

Today opens the 2nd International Furnidec Business exhibition in Thessaloniki. It hosts, just like last year, the 3rd Design Show, which has known Greek designers exhibiting their work. In a specially designed space for this, in Pavilion 14, this special show is a celebration of design furniture and home accessories, outside of the usual commercial styles and norms.

Avant guard designers and architects project a special concept in objects concerning furniture. The prerogative for participation is the original idea and construction based on innovation, functionality and high standards in strength, style and unexpected forms and shapes. Most of the participating designers had previously shown in BARTESERA in Athens last month.

For the very first time, a Pan-Hellenic competition for furniture design took place, under the Helexpo-Furnidec co-ordination, in collaboration with the Greek Secretariat for Industrial Design. Any individual or team represented by a professional in the field of design and also graduate of any design school was eligible. There are 7 equal awards that will be given on Sunday. All the participants exhibit their designs and models along with their more well know colleagues, in Pavilion 14, in the special area designated for them.

The design of the whole space was done by my colleague Ioanna Papadopoulou, and we both supervised the set up of the exhibition space for the company we work for, Tetragon. I will post photos after the event.

The show is from the 25th until the 28th of January at the Thessaloniki International Fair grounds.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Netherlands trip 2008 - part 2 - Zussen in Utrecht

Zussen is now ranked amongst my favourite places to have a drink in Utrecht. An eclectic mix of various styles and materials, it is a bar-restaurant with a youthful clientèle, tasteful food and interesting music.

Located at Korte Jansstraat 23, Utrecht, in the centre of the city, it was a welcome haven on a humid and cold Monday evening. Although it was the start of the week, there were enough people there to make it lively and vibrant, aided by the eccentric decoration.

Wood is the main note in this neo-baroque concert of materials, either in rough, raw looking planks on the floor and walls...

...or dark looking wenghe with an 80's revival feel in the bar area:

The lighting is another interesting parameter of this establishment. Colour changing lights are used in the wall opposite the bar (it changed constantly from fuchsia to red, yellow, orange, green, blue)...

...to the use of tree branches, big and small, to light the seating areas...

...and a couple of huge lamp shades to finish off the look:

Swirling patterns on the fabric of the chairs (also used as wallpaper in the wooden grid framing the colour-changing wall) and huge painting reproductions on the walls, along with the use of polished stone on the floor, complete the picture. I will definitely go again on my next visit to Utrecht!

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Muzine party. Be there.

On Friday 1st of February, after 10:30pm, you are invited to the first party-communication of the new music magazine Muzine along with its readers, at the IANOS Bookstore cafe at 24 Stadiou Str., Athens.

The magazine's editors will play each a dj-set, while you will have the chance to talk to them and let them know your opinions.
Both already published issues will be on sale there and anyone who buys Muzine that night will be able to choose between the CD "7 meres makria" from Chromatic Sequence and the first Abbie Gale album "Family Life" which were given kindly from them and we will give out to you.
All new subscriptions will receive as a gift the Tara King Theory CD (limited number of copies still available, less than 80).
Entrance is free and JACK DANIEL'S will welcome you with free shots.
For more info contact through e-mail or call Muzine (2610342886/6978415843)

Friday, January 18, 2008

Style is...

From Gore Vidal (via Creature Comforts), comes this wonderful quote:

Style is knowing who you are, what you want to say, and not give a darn.

Your thoughts?

Monday, January 14, 2008

Netherlands trip 2008 - part 1

I was again lucky to visit the Netherlands this January, as I had done last year. I was supervising the set up of the Greek National Tourism Board in the Vakantiebeurs Fair in Utrecht. We did a similar design to last year's successful one, a bit lighter and airier this time around. Check it out:

We changed the colour of the main construction to maple instead of wenghe, limiting the dark wood to floor covering only. Combined with white frames and the intense colours of the new campaign for tourism in Greece, it made the stand look fresher, cooler and more inviting to the visitors.

The main concept again was water: from the bubble prints on the plexiglass boxes framing the seating area of the cafeteria, to the backlit "water" print inside the rectangular white sofa in the middle to the blue transparent fish hanging from the ceiling (I threaded them all myself and Sakis artistically hanged them in random swarm movement from the ceiling), "swimming: between silk thread columns, the whole stand tried to evoke the blue Greek seas.

The new GNTO campaign fit perfectly with the chosen colour scheme. The campaign photos (with the worst photoshop editing I have seen in years - rushed job?) show a new, contemporary Greece, very attractive to visit and with a variety of things to see and do (and not only ancient ruins to admire). I hope it helps the Greek tourism industry in a positive way (i.e. attract more "good" tourism to Greece)

Once again, kudos to my crew, who did an excellent job in difficult environmental circumstances and tight time restraints, to our Dutch collaborators (TAO, our electricians and riggers (thanks Patrick and Peter!) , Atelier van Zijderveld, our graphics set up crew, the Vakantiebeurs team (thanks Marloes!), the Jaarbeurs Utrecht people, the GNTO Amsterdam office (thanks Sotiris!) and everyone else that contributed to our success.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Absolute Sandman - Vol.2 arrived. Breathtaking.

For those of you you do not know it yet, my Internet nickname and usual avatar when out of photographs, as well as the name of my blog, come from one of the best (if not THE best) comics ever, The Sandman. Written by Neil Gaiman (in my humble opinion one of the greatest contemporary writers out there) and drawn by a myriad of extremely talented artist, with all covers made by the genius that is Dave McKean, it defined a whole era in comicdom, attracted readers that had never read comics before, won literary awards that were supposedly not meant for comics and influenced (along with Alan Moore's Watchmen) a whole generation of comic writers and readers. It also influenced me profoundly, changed my way of thinking, writing, drawing, designing, made me see the world and my life around me through different eyes. And I have never looked back since.

Absolute Sandman Vol.1, Slipcase cover

The Sandman was the most acclaimed comic book title of the 1990s. A rich blend of modern myth and dark fantasy in which contemporary fiction, historical drama and legend are seamlessly interwoven, it is also widely considered one of the most original and artistically ambitious comic book series of the modern age. By the time it concluded in 1996, it had made significant contributions to the artistic maturity of comic books and become a pop culture phenomenon in its own right.

Absolute Sandman Vol.1, book cover picture

DC Comics Absolute Edition is a series of archival quality printings of graphic novels published by DC Comics, Vertigo and Wildstorm Productions. Each is presented in a hard cover, dust jacketed and slip cased edition with cloth bookmark consisting of one or more books which include restored, corrected and recoloured versions of the original work, reprinted at 8 inches by 12 inches. Also included are supplemental materials regarding the creation of the work, including sketches, comic scripts, memos, etc.

Absolute Sandman Vol.1, inside view

The first of four beautifully designed slip cased volumes, The Absolute Sandman Vol. 1 collects issues #1-20 of The Sandman and features completely new colouring, approved by the author on the first 18 issues, as well as a host of never-before-seen extra material including the complete original Sandman proposal, a gallery of character designs from Gaiman and the artists who originated the look of the Sandman, and the original script for the World Fantasy Award-winning The Sandman #19, "A Midsummer Night's Dream," together with reproductions of the issue's original pencils by Charles Vess. Also included are a new introduction by DC President and Publisher Paul Levitz and an afterword by Gaiman.

Absolute Sandman Vol.2, slipcase cover

And here's the reason for today's post, the second volume of the series. It was waiting for me when I returned from my Netherlands trip (more about this in future posts), which was one of the best things to start the year off with! It collects issues 21-39 of The Sandman and features remastered colouring on all 19 issues as well as brand-new inks on The Sandman #34 by the issue's original penciller, Colleen Doran, and a host of bonus material, including two never-before-reprinted stories by Gaiman (one prose and one illustrated), a complete reproduction of the never-before-reprinted one-shot The Sandman: A Gallery Of Dreams, and the complete script and pencils by Gaiman and Kelley Jones for Chapter Two of "Season of Mists" from The Sandman #23.

Absolute Sandman Vol.2, book cover

Even if you're not a fan of comic books, this one will haunt your mind forever, once you start reading it. For those of you who want to begin, try finding the paperback graphic novels that collect the series in volumes that are easily accessible and affordable. They are also published in many languages around the world (even in Greek), although for me, Neil Gaiman's writing is best experienced in his native language. Try it, you will never regret it.

Absolute Sandman Vol.3, slip case cover (preview, out in May 2008)

Friday, January 11, 2008

The new face of Flocafe unveiled in Glyfada, Athens!

Tetragon Ltd., the company I work for, is responsible for the new image of the Flocafe chain of cafés. The concept for it was finalized after many sessions with Vivartia officials and the design team, ending up in a number of distinct themes.

Flocafe is the biggest chain of cafés in Greece. It belongs to the Vivartia group, the largest food group of companies in the Balkans. Until now, the design of their franchise shops was not following specific guidelines regarding their image. Since the competition s getting stronger though, and with the expansion of Starbucks in Greece, they decided it is time for a change.

The main feature of all the themes of the concept is the repeated use of the spiral incorporated into their logo. That is achieved with a variety of materials and solutions, from lighting to print to constructions etc.

The new Flocafe in Glyfada is the pilot shop. Incorporating the "ecological" theme of the general concept, it features big semi-transparent eco-resin walls (from 3form) with enclosed plant parts in them. With light placed behind, they become an impressive eye-catcher both in the bar and in other areas of the establishment:

The main colour used in this version of the concept is red. It dominates a big partition running throughout the ground floor area, unifying all parts of the shop.

The shop was extended on the ground floor with a semi-permanent glass and metal construction, to allow for the maximum number of seats needed. As it serves food apart from coffee and snacks, various types of furniture were used to delineate these areas.

In the following picture of the upper level you can see the special device for helping people with disabilities use the stairs.

Lemon trees are used at the upper level to convey a sense of nature.

I hope to be able to post professional pictures when I have more material available.

All photos courtesy of Valentino Marengo/Tetragon Ltd.